UPA government insensitive, says Sarabjit Singh’s sister

Kolkata, Jan 15: Calling the UPA government insensitive to getting Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh released from a Pakistani prison, his elder sister Tuesday said had Indira Gandhi been the prime minister, she would have dealt with the case in a better way.

“I wish Indira Gandhi was the prime minister when my brother Sarabjit was imprisoned in Pakistan. She would have dealt with it in a better manner. She would have paid much more attention to the issue of mistaken identity of my brother and would have dealt with it swiftly. The present government is not so sensitive,” Dalbir Kaur said at a book release here.

She also criticised former prime minister late P.V. Narasimha Rao for not doing enough when news of Sarabjit’s incarceration in Pakistani jails filtered out in the early 1990s.

“If Rao had paid heed to the matter during its initial stage and taken solid steps, my brother would have been home by now,” Kaur said. She said Rao had given assurances that steps would be taken for Sarabjit’s release, but nothing was done.

Sarabjit is currently imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat jail in Pakistan since 1990.

His family claims Sarabjit had accidentally strayed across the border from his village on the border in Punjab into Pakistan Aug 28, 1990. He was caught by Pakistani troopers and was convicted by the Pakistani authorities for his alleged involvement in the 1990 serial bomb blasts in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 people.

Pakistani authorities alleged he was Manjit Singh.

He was given the death sentencein 1991, but the hanging has been repeatedly postponed. Five mercy petitions have been filed on his behalf, in which Sarabjit maintains he has served 22 years in prison for a crime he has not committed.

“The papers for his release are ready. They are with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. I hope he will take the matter into due consideration and sign them before March when his term ends,” said Awais Sheikh, Sarabjit’s lawyer in Pakistan.

Sheikh was in Kolkata to launch his bi-lingual book “Sarabjit Singh: A Case of Mistaken Identity (Sarabjit Singh ki Ajeeb Dastan)”.

“When Sarabjit was arrested, Manjit disappeared. The FIR did not have Sarabjit’s name in it. It said Manjit Singh and it became imperative for me to find out who Manjit Singh was,” said Sheikh.